The sensation of taking off in a single-engine Cessna with our two kids — ages four and six — and watching their eyes become saucers while their jaws drop, naturally causes a parent to wonder: “Will they love this or hate it? Will they relax and have fun or will they remember this as agonizing child abuse?” I have no idea.
It only takes a few minutes until the grip of fear subsides and hints of smiles appear on their faces. They don’t talk — it’s probably a little too much to process — but at least they aren’t crying!
This is their first time flying on any airplane, and experiencing flight for the first time through their eyes reminds me of when I did the same thing at about their ages in much the same way.
Small airplanes offer the sensation of flight in a little bit scarier way than big commercial airplanes, but flying on a small plane while witnessing the pilot in action in the tiny cockpit makes the event so much more significant and personal. It’s like riding on a kayak compared to riding on a cruise liner. We feel the turbulence more profoundly; we hit pockets of big ups and big downs, but this is flight!
We hear through our headphones from our pilot, James, that we are going to head over to Arches. As the roads, cars and buildings become tiny, the view of the vast landscape makes the little outpost of Moab, followed by Castle Valley, appear insignificant. The millions of acres of uninhabited “badlands” below us, with the little channel of the Colorado River carving its way through, is spectacular.
James has been flying with Redtail Aviation for six years in a single-engine Cessna over Moab, Canyonlands and Arches National Parks. He’s still enthusiastic about the landscape, including petrified sand dunes, hundreds of arches, the massive red rock fins of Fiery Furnace, and the views of Delicate Arch and Landscape Arch from 5,000 feet above.
Moab’s once-remote airport was expanded a few years ago to allow for larger private jets and charter planes. It’s getting busier these days, and there are even a few private jets parked on the tarmac. “We are getting more folks with jets flying in on weekends,” James tells us.
While Moab is quickly becoming an internationally-known destination for the wealthy and elite, families don’t need to break the bank to afford flying over some of the most spectacular scenery on earth. And the sensation of flying over billions of years of geology, especially while creating a sense of awe and wonder in kids, is certainly a worthwhile 45-minute trip.
Subscribe to Utah Stories weekly newsletter and get our stories directly to your inbox